Updated July 2019
I am writing today from a place of heart-wrenching sadness. Yes, I know the world is full of horrible things and life is hard and all those placating sentiments that make people feel better about not taking action to better the lives of others. It is so easy to brush the hard things in life aside; to go along and to not worry about the problems of others. To say “it’s not our place”, “it’s not our battle”, “it’s not our business”. “Someone else will do it”. Focus on yourself. Focus on your personal family. Focus on your small bubble of life experiences.
Some children do not have this luxury. Every day, they continue to deteriorate in their condition, simply because they were born into a society that doesn’t accept – or can’t support – differences. Disabled kids. Older kids. Difficult kids. Kids who use wheelchairs. Kids with brain damage, who have suffered traumatic injuries.
Kids like ‘Jewell’.
Jewell’s Reece’s Rainbow Profile
Below is an old file photo of Jewell, back when she looked semi-healthy. She has chubby baby cheeks; her eyes are alert, and she has a contented expression. I’m not sure the year on this photo, but it is obviously old.
PD1: A headshot of a relatively healthy-looking, chubby-cheeked young Jewell, laying on a couch wearing a blue shirt. Her blue eyes are turned upward toward the outer corner of the photo & her brown hair is short, but not shaved.
This is a photo of Jewell from 2015, over 3 years ago. Her photo is absolutely devastating to me. But it is not the worst.
PD2: Jewell sits in a stroller, wearing a red t-shirt w/ her thin arms up around her face in a protective manner. Her head is shaved & she looks utterly miserable.
The two below photos are recent undated updates.
PD3: Jewell’s face is incredibly thin & she is sucking on her tongue, which is poking out slightly. She has a shaved head & her green eyes are unfocused.
PD4: Jewell is wasting away in this full-body photo. She looks so thin, if she weren’t wearing a purple sweater & tights, you would probably be able to see her bones. She has both hands resting under her head & on her forehead. She looks absolutely miserable.
I have been aware of this sweet girl for quite some time, being a long-time, daydreaming browser of Reece’s Rainbow. I’m 27, married just over 2 years, living with my husband and a roommate in a rental house. My husband is a medical student. We do not have much. I have a good job. And I honestly struggle with my notion of adoption. I know adoption doesn’t have to be a second choice, an option to consider once one has had, or has discovered they cannot have, biological children. I know there will never be a time in our lives when we can say we are ‘ready’ to adopt, just like there will never be a time when we are ‘ready’ to have a biological child. Not really. But we can’t travel anytime soon. We don’t yet have a support system in place to take care of an older child with disabilities. We are not… gosh, this is just so hard to even write. I just can’t find the words. Any excuse, any aversion I can think up, there is basically a foil that nearly immediately makes itself apparent to me. How can you find the words to say you want to help with the orphan crisis, but you can’t adopt yourself, right now, today?
But alas, I am diverging from the intended topic; I’m getting personal. That was not my intention for this post. So I will press on, despite my aversion to leaving the above conversation where I have. Before reading on, reference this Facebook post by Keshia Melton, an advocate in EE.
“Imagine being beaten so badly that your skull is fractured and you are left with irreversible brain damage.
Then imagine being dumped in an orphanage where you cry for hours but no-one comes so eventually you stop.
Then imagine being thrown in the back of a car and being driven over bumpy roads for hours. Then being stuck in a backroom of an old institution where large, mobile adult men also live.
Then imagine being hungry and frightened. Your limbs get skinnier and skinnier while your belly gets more swollen as you starve to death.
This sweet girl doesn’t have to imagine any of this, it is her life.
Her story doesn’t have to end with her being buried in a graveyard behind the institution.”
As shown in the photos in Keshia’s post, her hair has grown back some, but she is growing ever-skinnier. Her belly is distended due to malnutrition. She looks absolutely miserable. All the baby fat she used to have in her little cheeks is gone. I’m not sure what her daily pain level is, but she does not look well and would definitely benefit from immediate medical care in a US hospital.
Jewell doesn’t have the luxury of time or space. She has a crib, and a small one, and a bleak future ahead if she isn’t adopted. I’m going to share medical information about this sweet girl, and I have to ask you to please try your best not to shy away from this. You see, a list of diagnoses may seem scary at first, but when it comes down to it, Jewell is a human. She’s worthy of note, she’s worthy of dignity.
From her Reece’s Rainbow page
Jewell was born in April of 2006 in an Eastern European country. She has been listed on Reece’s Rainbow since August 2010, which is more than 8 years. She is also available to older parents and large families.
Jewell has dark brown hair and blue-green eyes. Jewell is the victim of parental physical abuse, and suffers from post-traumatic brain injury (she had fractures in the bones around her brain, which caused sub-arachnoidal influence in the form of irreversible damage), which has further complicated her delays and struggles, which include severe cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, and microcephaly. In 2015, she was reported to be walking, but we do not know if she still has this skill due to malnutrition. SIGNIFICANT RISK, PLEASE ADOPT ME SOON!!
She does have a sister with mild delays whom she can be adopted with or by herself (these siblings have been adopted and are no longer available).
Jewell eligible for an Older Child Grant through Reece’s Rainbow! Grant funding is dependent on a completed application and available funds. For more information, visit: Other Angels Older Child Grant
More Adoption Info
These resources were shared in Keshia’s post, and are summarized here. Adoption requirements for the U.S. and Jewell’s country can be found here.
Renata More, a social worker, says via Facebook (edited by me):
“Hey there, I’m a social worker. And an adoptive parent of 12 kids from this same country, several of which were near death due to starvation and neglect when we got them.
[H]ere’s a brief breakdown of the costs associated with international adoption, based on our adoptions:
- $3,000 – cost of home study (a lengthy, intense inspection and preparation process conducted by a licensed, insured, accredited adoption agency involving multiple trips to our home, etc) as required by the USA’s laws and foreign government
- $1,800 – fees paid to US Customs/Immigration for pre-adoption reviews and biometric fingerprint background checks through Homeland Security
- $400 for both of our passports to be made and expedited, including shipping and photos
- $250 – fees for medical physicals paid to our doctors for adoption-specific testing required by both nations involved
- $500 – fees paid for notarizing dossier documents, and apostilling them through the Secretary of State
- $50 – fees paid to local sheriff’s office for county and state background checks, with certified letter response
- $500 – translation fee to a translator to have our dossier put into the foreign language
- $500 – fees paid to DHL and FedEx for shipping our documents in batches to the foreign government
- $3,000-8,000 per child (depending on location and proximity to other children being adopted) per adoption, in translation, attorney, facilitation, and interpreting fees paid to a foreign adoption group in the overseas country. Those fees are very low, compared to other international adoption fees, fyi, and cover many, many hours of work with us here and over there.
- $5,000 per adoption paid to airlines, for transporting us back and forth.
- $3,000 paid for apartment and hotel rentals for the required 2+ months overseas to be interviewed by the government, meet the child/ren, bond with them, go through the court process, take care of paperwork, wait for the US Embassy to approve everything
- $1,500 per adoption minimum for overseas, in-country transportation on trains, planes, buses, trolleys, taxis, and private drivers
- $350 overseas per child for their passport (not much different than fees here, fyi)
- $275 per child to the US Embassy medical office for a completely pointless medical exam for our new child, required by law…
If foreign governments had adequate funding (they don’t) to take care of all the orphans, they would. Much of the time, kids are suffering because the other countries are struggling. This particular country is easily 50 years behind our medical system. People there buy enough food to last them 1-2 days, because they cannot afford anything else. They walk everywhere or ride public transportation. They are POOR.”
If you aren’t in a place where you can adopt, you can still help. You can contribute to Jewell’s Reece’s Rainbow grant at the provided link above. You can share Jewell’s story, no matter how difficult it is to process. Please share her. I know her family is out there, they just haven’t found their little one yet.
Reece’s Rainbow official website can be referenced for additional information.